Sunday, August 30, 2009

What Is It... ...revealed!

The pictures tell the story. The "tool" is a kitchen tool - but then almost everything used to come in a sealed can. Heck, I think somewhere in my tools I still have a piercing spout for motor oil.
So, it makes sense that he / his father would have a can opener in with his other woodworking / home maintenance / construction equipment. I have a "church key" combination bottle / can opener in my tool box that future generations may puzzle over.

It does work amazingly well. Jab the center of the lid, adjust the cutter to the edge of the can, plunge it, grip can with one hand, turn can opener around until you either free the lid, or leave the lid attached and pull free with the point of the opener.

I think the downside of the tool is having to grip the can while using it - which is why the crank style can opener won out. It is at its worst with a small can like the pictured can of tuna. Simply less can to grip.

Here we have jabbed as accurately as possible.

Next, we engage the cutter, which has been moved and tightened for this size can.

Here we have pulled the cutter most of the way around the can. (This part is pretty quick, although we haven't tried a can race between electric, hand crank and this old fellow yet.)

And a last picture with the lid nearly removed and hinged up from the can.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What is it?

I picked up this tool at a garage sale yesterday for a couple of bucks. The old gentleman that was having the sale was in his 70s or 80s and had a number of tools that were his father's - including a handsaw with a nib that just wasn't in good enough shape to turn back into a user, but was most likely over 100 years old. The pictures are of a tool that he couldn't identify, but that my eyes passed over until someone else asked him what it was. I had a guess at it & snagged it, just because it was a fun artifact. Other than lightly cleaning it I didn't do anything else to it. My teenage son used it successfully and quickly the very first time - the tool functions like new!
Of course I had to try it & was amazed that it works better than modern replacements. As you can see, it has a point on the end, and an adjustable double-sided cutter that is set with a thumbscrew. The thumbscrew locks the cutter to the shaft of the tool. The cutter isn't particularly sharp, and is an arc, coming to a single point. Frankly, I don't think the cutter was any sharper when it was brand new. I showed my parents thinking that there was a chance that they wouldn't be able to identify & my Mom said that her Grandmother had one that she used all the time. She also said that they fell out of favor after the war (WW2) and that she hadn't seen any since then.
So, my question to you is: what is it? Instead of giving the answer away, I thought I'd give you a puzzler. If you know the answer, please don't post as a comment. email me with your guess and I'll send you a picture of it in use, or give you a hint if you are wrong - or heck, will just send you a pic / tell you if that is what you would prefer. Hope this is fun for you!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fein MultiMaster

I finally got a Fein MultiMaster - it has been on my wish list for many years. But, the price has prevented me from buying and Santa from delivering. It has a lot of capabilities, which has lead to a number of manufacturers making less expensive knock-offs in the last year.
This is the model with case I bought, but I didn't pay $399 for it! I bought it at (of course) a garage sale for $25. Yep, pretty good deal, right? Hold on a second - check out how expensive the BLADES for it are! Yeah, a major stumbling block for me. Fortunately, there are a few options. I'm sure some of the competition's blades and accessories will fit & I can always make my own. Yep, there are some brave souls out there that have made their own blades for this tool, which may make it more affordable for me to own and use. I know we sure could have used it on a recent bathroom remodel.
Dana Decker's method is pretty much the standard way folk are going about it. This guy does much the same thing, but without having to melt the mounting hole. I'll probably end up trying both at some point as I really can't see shelling out more for blades than the tool cost me initially.
There are a few folk that sell somewhat cheaper blades - Multiblades and Imperial Blades appear to be the most popular. But if you need a Bimetallic Metal Cutting Blade you'll have to buy Fein's, as no-one else makes them.
I guess this post is mostly a tool gloat, but I hope someone else out there stumbles across this post and is able to save themselves some money keeping their Fein MultiMaster on the job.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Saving Woodworking Articles for later viewing, Part 1

The web is great - I'm sure we've all found a lot of information that we can't live without, surfing around. Sometimes you will find a really useful article that you don't want to lose track of, and are a little afraid about finding it on the 'net again. Sure, you could print it, but the images lose their crispness and much of the detail.
Internet Explorer can help you out. You can save entire webpages for offline viewing, here is how:
When you use viewing any webpage, go to the File menu and use the Save As... option - choose a desination and name, but select the "Web Archive, single file(*.mht) as the Save as type: - this will create a file with all the pictures that can be viewed offline, backed up to CD and stored, whatever. There are other methods for saving webpages, but only this one puts everything into one file. I think you are fine about doing this for your own use, but I'm not sure about the legalities about sharing .mht files with others. Remember, this only works with Internet Explorer. Whoops! I'm wrong! There is support for MHT / MIME HTML files in other browsers. I wish I had known about this feature a few years ago - I stumbled across a guy that made a pair of Stickley style recliners out of flame figured Maple, with good pictures of each step of the process... ...and could never find the page again.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Shelf life and product code dating

Titebond in all the different flavors is my favorite family of wood glues. Franklin gives a standard shelf life of 1 year for all their glues for an unopened container. Keeping air out of the container helps, but still begs the question: When does that timer start? When was that bottle of glue made / when does that year start? That question is equally applicable to any finishing product.
It basically comes down to lot numbers. Lot numbers are generally stamped in easily smudged numbers on individual bottles, but if not there, then is printed on the cardboard box the bottles come in - thank goodness many stores only unbox a few bottles at a time and the rest stays easy to date from their birth certificate on the box. Quoted from
"How do I read the lot numbers?
The letter "A" is always used at the beginning of a Franklin International lot number. The second digit corresponds to the last number of the year. Digits 3 & 4 correspond to the months of the year. The 5th and 6th digits correspond to the day of the month the product was made. Lastly, digits 7 through 10 are batch numbers. Therefore, a Titebond product with the lot number of A906010045 was manufactured on June 1, 2009."
It turns out that there are more ways of coding Titebond Lot numbers than the above, as talked about here.
So, it comes down to tracking down (and deciphering) what the lot numbers mean to determine product age - marking a products "born on" date isn't as useful as marking when it goes bad, which I recommend that you do "in the clear" with a Black indelible marker! Especially if you have to get the "born on" date from a box that stays in the store. If you can't be bothered, buy from some place that does brisk business and date from when you buy the bottle. Otherwise, beware of that dusty bottle purchased from a Mom and Pop - sorry, I like to support Mom and Pop operations, but your project depends on its life based on the glues and finishes it is made with.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

MSDS - why you need them.

A MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) is a form produced by the manufacturers of all most all chemicals. Large businesses are required to have the MSDS information at hand for any of the products they use in their daily work. So why do you need them for the products you use? Well, mostly you don't, but I can give some compelling reasons to seek them out.
1) MSDS list the ingredients of the product you are using. Yep, ever wonder what was in some of the finishes you use? An MSDS will tell you, down to the percent. Poor labelling of consumer packaging no longer has to stop you from knowing exactly what you are exposing yourself to, or for that matter whipping up some of your own if that is cheaper for you. Many manufacturers rely on the "Secret" of what is in their stuff to stay in business.
2) The real purpose of MSDS sheets; safety - it is always good to know what you are being exposed to. Everything from alergic reactions, wondering how to store safely, or is it safe to mix with another product, etc.
Here are a few to get you started.
Rockler provides MSDS for the chemicals they sell and even have a nice search engine. As they sell the Sam Maloof finishes, kinda interesting reading!
Highland Hardware also has a list of MSDS for what they sell.
MSDS online is a pay service, but allow trial use, so if you have one in particular that you are interested in looking up, this may be your best option.
Oh, and I've noted that even if a .COM company doesn't have MSDS sheets online for the public, sometimes the Canadian version of the same company / site will.
Another tip - sometimes you can get the information you need simply by asking for it, either by mail, phonecall or webform. "I need the MSDS information for product X, please." Will generally get the job done. I like the "Contact Us" webforms that most companies provide for their sites.
This may be another good way to track down info.
So if your interest is simply casual (What is in this stuff? / Can I make my own version more cheaply?) or because you have concerns (Last time I used this stuff, I got a rash.) the right MSDS is where you need to go for the answers.